Kampfar - Kvass

6 songs
45:58 minutes
***** ****


Most black metal bands these days aim for the commercial breakthrough sounds popularised by Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, or stubbornly adhere to the roots of pioneers like Immortal and Darkthrone. Fortunately, if you're looking hard, you come from time to time across a band that manages to find its niche somewhere in between. Kampfar from Norway for instance have been around for more than ten years, even though their last album was released seven years ago. This may explain why the name Kampfar sounded familiar but I couldn't remember their music.

Nevermind, because Kvass should be reason enough to feel like needing to get acquainted with this pagan black metal four-piece. The six, mostly long, songs take some time to find a way into your ear, but after a couple of repeated listenings (and yes, this album motivates to be heard more than just once), you will be mesmerised by Kampfar's simple yet effective song writing. The opener Lyktemenn (most songs are sung in Norwegian) gives already a good impression of what this album is about: mid-tempo guitar chords burrowing their way through compositions that are never shorter than six minutes, with vocals that don't need any effects, sounding instead like early Kreator having discovered black metal before its time. The songs show slight parallels to mid-period Bathory, especially the genial Ravenheart that delivers powerful guitar riffs as haven't been heard since the very early Edge Of Sanity albums.

Somehow Kampfar play a very conservative kind of black metal, adding slight folk, pagan, Viking and sometimes even classical elements. You will look in vain for innovation, but you don't need that on an album that is so confident about its source material. Kvass is one of the rare contemporary black metal albums that simply manages to just be there, without asking questions about influences. This is prime choice music, and in my opinion, a possible candidate for the best black metal album of the year 2006.

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